Get Ready Mailbag: Being prepared while on summer vacation

Welcome to another installment of the Get Ready Mailbag, when we take time to answer questions sent our way by readers like you. Have a question you want answered? Send an e-mail to

Q. This summer, my family and I will be going on vacation. Are there any steps I can take to make sure we're prepared while away from home?

Being prepared means making sure you are ready for potential health hazards — no matter where you are. And this includes while on vacation!

There are basic steps we can all take while on vacation to stay safe. These include packing a portable emergency preparedness kit and making sure everyone knows your family's emergency contact phone number.

However, it's also important to think about where you'll be vacationing to figure out how to get ready. For instance, the beach is a popular vacation destination for families during the summer months. If you're vacationing along the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean between June and November, make sure you're prepared for hurricanes. Along with having a portable emergency kit ready to go, this includes mapping out an evacuation route and staying alert for warnings.

If you are traveling overseas, you should find out what sorts of natural disasters occur in your destination and prepare accordingly. Also, for many locations outside of North America, you should take steps to protect yourself from infectious diseases that might not ordinarily be a concern.

Furthermore, along with the location of your destination, it's a good idea to think about where you'll be staying and factor that into your preparedness. For instance, if you're renting a vacation home, you'll want to make sure the smoke detectors work, locate a first aid kit and fire extinguisher, and make sure you are familiar with the layout of the house in case you have to evacuate quickly. If you're staying in a high-rise hotel, take note of the nearest exits and be sure your family knows not to take the elevator in an emergency.

So just as you pack sunblock to protect yourself against harmful rays, take a few extra steps to keep you and your family safe from other possible threats while on vacation.

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